BEN CARSON ENCOUNTERS
THE MINDSET OF THE LEFT
There was a time when liberals had a sense of humor; when they enjoyed ironic wordplay; when they recognized that the reality of malice or evil could be suggested subtly but powerfully by a wry expression.
Remember that old Randy Newman song, “Sail Away” (featured on an album of the same name in 1972)? Here’s Newman’s sardonic comment on slavery — presented in the form of a sales pitch for leaving Africa and seeking a fresh start in the New World…
“In America you’ll get food to eat
Won’t have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You’ll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It’s great to be an American”
Newman’s benign invitation to sail away capsulized the essence of slavery satirically, by presenting wickedness as betterment.
Everybody understood what Newman was trying to say. In a sense, he was playing on St. Paul’s insight about, “the glamor of evil.” And his humor carried the message.
Fast forward to 2017…
“Ben Carson’s a disgrace for calling slaves immigrants.”
So screams the headline on a commentary by Leonard Greene of the New York Daily News…
“Let’s see if I have this straight. When men and women and children were kidnapped from their villages and separated from their families and packed into rickety ships for months at a time to be traded for tobacco and cotton and cloth and grain, that was immigration?
“When people were branded with hot irons like cattle on a ranch so that ownership of one human being by another human being would not be in dispute, that was immigration?”
Greene’s complaint strikes me as deeply disingenuous. The New York Daily News writer couldn’t really have believed that Ben Carson doesn’t know the difference between voluntary immigration and being abducted into a life of forced servitude.
Of course not. Greene understood perfectly well that Carson wasn’t dismissing the cruelty of slavery. And he surely knew Carson wasn’t indulging in the dark humor of Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.”
There could be no misinterpreting the good doctor’s words…
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
In his typically understated way, Carson was describing the far greater disadvantages which those brought to America in chains had to overcome in order to pursue their dreams.
But understatement is out of fashion in our current hyper-politicized atmosphere. Anything short of a fevered demand for social justice marks Ben Carson as a pawn of malevolent racists and reactionaries.
Well hey — he does work for Donald Trump, right?
Thus, Leonard Greene impugns one of the most thoughtful and humane individuals on the public scene today.
This situation is almost funny, if you can get past the petty nastiness of the Daily News’ political correctness. But then, that’s shared by lots of other media along with several so-called celebrities.
Actress Leslie Jones, of “Ghostbusters” fame, was so incensed over Ben Carson’s remark that she tweeted vulgarly (and somewhat incoherently)…
“I want to fight Ben Carson!! Cash me outside muthaf*cka! How bout dat!! F*CKFACE!!”
(Obviously she’s a bit too fond of exclamation points.)
Highlighting another bit of irony, Jerome Hudson of Breitbart News quoted a 2015 reflection by Barack Obama that was eerily similar to Ben Carson’s words…
“Certainly, it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”
But that’s okay, you see, because Obama doesn’t work for Trump.
This all puts me in mind of those personnel recruiting ads that always end by proclaiming…
XYZ Company is an equal-opportunity employer.
It goes without saying that XYZ Company is an equal-opportunity employer. All companies are equal-opportunity employers. It’s the law, for cryin’ out loud. Any business that isn’t an equal-opportunity employer will soon find itself being fined to the point of bankruptcy.
But these days, if you don’t shout your ideological commitment from the rooftops — that is to say, if you don’t declare your submission to the prevailing social/political paradigm — you must be morally deficient.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a humorist of Randy Newman’s stature decided to turn his wit on the stilted and narrow-minded outlook of the Left?
I don’t know anything about Newman’s politics. But if, as I suspect, he shares the views held by those impassioned lefties who promised to leave the country should Trump win, I won’t hold my breath.
By the way, how come they’re all still here?
Sail away, little lefty. Sail away.
An earlier version of this essay appears on American Thinker…
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Shelby Steele, of the Hoover Institution, observes that American liberalism is pretty much exhausted as a viable political philosophy…
“Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy — hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.”
If you’ve never heard Randy Newman’s “Sail Away,” check out this video shot during a live performance in London. Newman’s older, and his delivery more laconic than back in 1972, but the song remains a classic of understated satire…